Religion and Popular Culture

full name / name of organization: 
Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association

Call For Papers for the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association annual meeting in Philadelphia, PA., November 3-5, 2011. The deadline for proposals is June 15th, 2011.

The Religion and Popular Culture area of the conference seeks presentations on the following topics:

Religion in the Twitterverse and Blogosphere:
This past February, a "tweet war" erupted within evangelical Christian circles. At stake in the war was a recently published book about Hell, and the participants -- among them major figures in evangelical theology and publishing -- tweeted attacks and defenses over the book. The tweet war elicited over 20,000 recommendations and 1,000 comments on Facebook and was listed as a top ten topic on Twitter.

This panel seeks to examine how new social media is influencing religious discourse. Have new online forums, like Twitter and Facebook, encouraged interaction among theologians, ministers, writers, lay people, and others? How can we analyze and understand online discourse among followers of various religious traditions? How have online discourse and electronic social forums influenced established religious tenets or practices?

Hell and the Religious Community:
Even before its release in March 2011, Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins: A Book about Heaven and Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, generated a firestorm of debate within the evangelical Christian community. At the debate's center was the question of whether Bell's reinterpretation of Hell revealed him to be a Christian heretic or not. The question for evangelicals: Can Bell still be considered one of us evangelical Christians or must we excommunicate him?

This panel will explore how the concept of "Hell" serves as a social bond for various religious groups. How does the understanding of "Hell" enable groups to demarcate those within the group against those outside the group? Do alternative visions of Hell, coming from sources outside established religious communities, address the desire to create alternative communities?

Holidays, Holy Days, and Popular Culture:
Many conference attendees have noted that MAPACA schedules its conference close to Halloween/the Day of the Dead, yet has not had a panel on it. Halloween and other holidays are rich opportunities for the expression of popular/religious culture. Thus, for this panel, we seek presentations on Halloween and other holidays. What are "holidays" in popular culture? How have they changed over time and place? What insights do we have into intersections of particular holidays and commerce? What are the intersections among established religious traditions, public institutions, commercial production, consumption, popular customs, which could include special foods and clothing, and holiday-specific media?

Religion and Popular/American Culture in Philadelphia:
This panel focuses on the intersection between popular and religious culture in Philadelphia, the site of this year's conference. What does this popular American religious culture look like in 2011? What do we learn if one analyzes the New Year's Mummer Parade as a religious festival? Popular religion in Philadelphia is local, global, and civil -- as in "the use of the religious imagination to uphold and reinforce national [and I would add "local"] traditions and institutions" (Alan Wolfe). How do these popular religious expressions manifest in the city outside our conference rooms?

We also welcome other panel or paper proposals on methods or other themes relevant to Religion and Popular Culture. A 150-word abstract, a shortened CV or biographical statement, and your audio-visual needs are due by June 15, 2011.

Please send submissions to both Co-Chairs: Anthony Zias, and Pam Detrixhe,

Students (both graduate and undergraduate) are encouraged to submit proposals and sliding scale registration fees are available.